Here’s an excerpt:
Nrama: What about the rest of you guys? Were you into the Extreme books back when they were first being published? Keatinge: Oh hell yeah. I had a similar situation to Tim, where I was just about the right age when Image first launched. I discovered those guys through their Marvel work, and when they left to form Image, I didn’t even understand there were different companies – I was just, “Uh, this is a bunch of awesome stuff.” And I glommed on to pretty much everything – like Tim was saying, between me and my friend, we had pretty much the entire friggin’ line. And the Extreme line was a big part of that. With Youngblood, there was a specific run — #6 through 11, I think – that was pretty friggin’ awesome. And then Alan Moore’s stuff revitalized my interest in that – Supreme and Youngblood and Judgment Day, and even his short Glory run. I loved Stephen Platt on Prophet, that blew me away, I still love those comics. I was definitely a huge fan going in. When Eric asked me to be part of this last November, I was like, “Anything you want. I’m all in.”
Nrama: What about the rest of you guys? Were you into the Extreme books back when they were first being published?
Keatinge: Oh hell yeah. I had a similar situation to Tim, where I was just about the right age when Image first launched. I discovered those guys through their Marvel work, and when they left to form Image, I didn’t even understand there were different companies – I was just, “Uh, this is a bunch of awesome stuff.”
And I glommed on to pretty much everything – like Tim was saying, between me and my friend, we had pretty much the entire friggin’ line. And the Extreme line was a big part of that. With Youngblood, there was a specific run — #6 through 11, I think – that was pretty friggin’ awesome.
And then Alan Moore’s stuff revitalized my interest in that – Supreme and Youngblood and Judgment Day, and even his short Glory run. I loved Stephen Platt on Prophet, that blew me away, I still love those comics. I was definitely a huge fan going in. When Eric asked me to be part of this last November, I was like, “Anything you want. I’m all in.”
BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT!
Those fine folks at Graphic.ly have made the EXTREME 2012 preview book is available for every single person on The Internet to enjoy! And look no further, ‘cause this suckers embeded right on this site! LOOK OUT!
PLEASE NOTE: this book contains previews of all the upcoming line, including Brandon Graham & Simon Roy’s Prophet, Tim Seeley & Franchesco Gaston’s Bloodstrike, Alan Moore, Erik Larsen & Cory Hamscher’s Supreme, John McLaughlin (THE WRITER OF BLACK SWAN!!!), Rob Liefeld & Jon Malin’s Youngblood and… OH, YOU KNOW IT - Ross Campbell and my take on GLORY!
King City’s Brandon Graham is a long-time friend of Neon Monster, going back to even before when they had him and Beast’s Marian Churchland hanging out at APE!
I also think his comics are freakin’ awesome, from the aforementioned King City to his upcoming full-color ongoing series, Multiple Warheadz.
So imagine how stoked I were when he did up an all new illustration of one of his biggest influences and another one of our favorite comics, Paul Pope’s THB! Big thanks to BG for allowing Neon Monster to debut this all-new piece with the world!
I put up a whole week of Tintin related stuff on Neon Monster.
Monday had half a gallery of Tintin fan art.
Wednesday had the other.
Today was a big treat, with a big conversation with King City’s Brandon Graham on all things Tintin.
Check it out if you’re into or interested in being into Herge’s famed boy reporter.
Awhile ago I thought asking artists to do their own interpetations of the Tintin comics in light of the upcoming Tintin movies might be a great way to showcase the source material.
I think it worked out pretty darn well. So well I’m now open to artists submitting their work on a regular basis in a new feature we’re calling Today’s Tintin. Just submit your work to me directly via joekeatinge at gmail dot com.
However, I felt there needed to be some direction in where the interested, new or lapsed Tintin fan could go to read what’s next.
He’s a buddy and we pretty regularly have long winded conversations about all sorts of different aspects of comics, with Tintin being a common topic. Every time we talk about whatever, I end up pretty charged. He knows how to talk comics, so I’m hoping you not only find this informative, but also get infected by our mutual enthusiasm.
Consider it a conversation, less so than an interview. We’re just waxing on Tintin, in hopes you’ll join the conversation.
Without further ado…
Neon Monster presents
A Casual Conversation on Tintin with Brandon Graham
Conducted by Joe Keatinge
JOE KEATINGE: Tintin seems to have a big effect on you.
BRANDON GRAHAM: Yes, huge; also, big.
JK: Why is that?
BG: Hold on. Let me grab a book so I can suckle off its aura.
JK: So it’s a vampiric thing?
BG: I think a lot of it is it just being something that hit me so hard when I was a kid and still holds up as strong. Something about the mysteries mixed with the nice timeless Belgian feel works really nicely. It’s like if the Hardy Boys were less boners.
What about you, Dr. Keatinge?
JK: For me it’s kind of complicated, but it sounds like the feelings mutual. Like you, it hit me pretty hard as a kid, but for different reasons than why it hits me now. Back then I viewed him as living every kids dream. Who wouldn’t want to be a boy reporter/sort-of-detective/explorer? Run around the world with your dog and a drunk sea captain? When you’re eight, that’s the life you want to lead.
BG: Also, drunk dog.
JK: He had a thing for hanging around drunks. Although, barely any women, which I find so odd now.
BG: Yeah, it’s all dudes and one annoying Opera singer. its kind of like it was written from the subconscious of an 8-year old boy. Adventure and drinking and head injuries and guns. Women aren’t even thought about. It’s that kind of insane logic that I think makes it seem impossible to adapt into anything mainstream past Herge’s work.
JK: It’s funny you mention it being from the subconscious of an eight year old boy. I never found it odd when I grew up, but when I rediscovered Tintin after reading Frederic Tuten’s Tintin in the New World, I had enough time lapse where I was able to approach it with new eyes.
BG: I havent read Tuten’s take.
JK: It’s not Herge’s.
BG: How’s he handle it?
JK: He basically had the same reaction we did. Tuten reproached Tintin as an adult and saw it as weird as we do now, especially the complete lack of women or love interest thing. It works within its own world for sure, but I still find it a bit strange.
BG: See, I don’t even think that’s weird. I just think it follows its own logic.
JK: New World’s sort of like Tintin’s Dark Knight Returns, but with a focus on his sexual awakening.
BG: Man, I’m not sitting around waiting for someone to awaken Tintin’s sexuality. Let sleeping boners lie.
JK: Yeah, it’s an odd book. If anything, I’m most thankful for its existence reminding me Tintin existed. Like I said before, from there I went back and rediscovered it in my late teens.
BG: Maybe it’s a fine book. I enjoy shit talking the unknown.
JK: Speaking of the differences in how you enjoyed it as an adult than how you enjoyed it growing up, is your favorite Tintin book now different from when you were a kid?
BG: For me, Cigars of the Pharaoh has always stuck out as my favorite. I think it was the one that really hooked me with its mystery symbol when I was a kid. It has those secret underground hideouts with purple suited Illuminati dudes and that scene where they wake up in the ocean in floating coffins is pretty insane. I love that.
JK: Yeah, see; it’s funny, because while I talk about “oh, hey; I view differently as an adult, the craft is amazing, blah, blah, blah” I still get the thrill out of the worlds he creates. Like you mentioned with Cigars, a lot of the stuff which works is because it’s just plain cool. Purpled suited illuminati dudes are awesome if you’re barely scraping elementary school or into your thirties. I’m not sure I had a favorite book as I kid. I actually feel like I’m more of a fan now than I was then. These days it’s really Destination Moon/Explorers On The Moon. Two books, but I still feel they need to be lumped together.
BG: Yeah, they connect. I’m realizing talking about them that I don’t really think about the craft of Tintin or even connect it to what I do, its just something nice from my childhood I like to go back to in a way it must be for me how some people feel about Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse, but those have never been my thing.
JK: I can’t help it. When I look at the sheer volume and the amount of work Herge and his assistants put into it is, well, astonishing. What’s funny is I didn’t know until recently he barely travelled around. He did some research then figured the rest. I assumed dude was traveling all over.
BG: It’d be hard with all that work to do.
BG: I assume dudes like him and Carl Barks were just looking at National Geographic and thinking about the possibilities It seems pretty obvous that hes making a lot up, like you can tell he had Asian friends but didnt hang out with any black dudes.
JK: Do you take that as a sign of the times? It seems odd for him to be an all-out racist, I remember reading he truly felt like he wanted to show, for instance, Asian culture in The Blue Lotus, even though I have some issues with how it’s portrayed. It’s certainly more respectful, but doesn’t seem far off from the Warner cartoons where Bugs Bunny is shooting buck-toothed Japanese soldiers in the way it caricatures Chinese culture. Maybe I’m just raised in a more PC time?
BG: I don’t think it was done with any malicious intent; just a lack of experience.
JK: Even Congo?
BG: Yeah, I don’t have any problems with Congo.
BG: If anything, the insane animal murder in that adds to what I still find so appealing about Tintin. I think it’s important to note that as fucked up as it is, that was the cartoonist shorthand for black people then. I mean no one calls Winsor McCay racist and he was doing the same thing.
JK: True; I actually think the best worst example is Eisner’s Ebony and I rarely hear it bring up with the fervor Congo often is. I like the French take on it. When I was in Angouleme I talked to a friend about their reaction and it’s basically, “hey, it happened. whatever. Can we move on?”
BG: I think Tintin is thought of as something pure.
JK: How so?
BG: Maybe everything I’ve mentioned is thought of like that, but I do see a lot of that kind of thing in everything from Krazy Kat to how Mickey Mouse was drawn. Maybe it should have been thrown off earlier. It’s hard to fully relate to a time I didn’t live in. All I can ask is if he was trying to be a dick about it.
JK: I don’t get that from him. I don’t think it was intentionally malicious, but then again I’m a white dude raised in the 1980s and 90s.
BG: I do really like the scene in Congo where Snowy gets eaten by a snake and he sticks his legs out of its belly and walks around like that. I think with something like that you’re looking at a larger culture of fucked up racism ingrained in everything.
JK: Agreed; the snake bit is a favorite moment.
Did Herge ever do any outright gag cartooning? He has a great ability to make me crack up in a single panel.
BG: I’ve only read one non-Tintin Herge book; I couldn’t say, but that touches on something I love about how good comics can incorporate the entirety of what you need to succeed in other forms of art/writing/cartooning and it can just be a side thing.
JK: How do you mean?
BG: Comics just allows for doing so many things, inside of a single comic. You can do a one panel gag that works by itself but also can connect to the larger storyline.
JK: I think Herge does it better than most and set the groundwork for folks like Pixar today, telling jokes a kid would crack up at, but you still get a kick out of as an adult.
BG: I think he does Herge better than most. I feel like Pixar is so watered down and made to appeal to the masses.
JK: Didn’t Herge do that?
BG: I might be wrong but I dont get the idea that Herge was trying to change what he was doing to market anything.
JK: Not that he’s manufactured, but I still feel he can appeal to the masses.
BG: I like to think he was just doing what he was happy with and wanted to see.
JK: I think he was to the beginning, back when he was being serialized. Dude had to sell newspapers, right? Still, I think he was doing so without going against his own vision. Meaning, he knew he had to hit a certain audience to sell a product, but was lucky enough to do so with his own creative vision.
BG: Well, yeah; That’s all a part of doing comics or selling them at least.
JK: Do you consider that at all?
BG: I consider what I’d want to read and assume that the audience is like minded. I don’t really want people who I wouldnt jive with reading what I do. Those dudes can watch Pixar movies.
This gets into my whole deep feeling about what I find appealing about comics as opposed to animation I’m much more excited by a single creators work or even a dude with a small team.
JK: So, Herge.
Do you know when he started using assistants?
BG: I’m sure we could look it up.
JK: Just double checked and verified it was around Blue Lotus and Cigars of the Pharaoh.
BG: Yeah, that’s what I saw too.
JK: Which is interesting, because Blue Lotus is widely regarded as his masterpiece. Do you agree?
BG: It’s up there.
JK: I’m with you on Cigars being up there as well and I already told you how much I love the Moon stories, but if I had to choose a single volume to give to a new reader, Blue Lotus is a contender. I like Red Rackum’s Treasure as a primer, it has pretty much everything someone new to Tintin needs, like a sweet shark submarine.
BG: I can’t think of a Tintin book that would turn someone off or onto Tintin more than others.
JK: I think Soviets and Congo might turn someone off. Not so much for their possibly offensive content, but they’re the work of a rougher cartoonist.
BG: I feel like if you are the kind of person that likes Tintin, you’ll like Tintin.
JK: I enjoy them, but don’t feel the really good stuff kicks in until around Cigars of the Pharaoh.
BG: It’s all fun stuff. Some of that Congo stuff is my favorite Herge, like the scene where Tintin is shooting at a Caribou or whatever it is and keeps thinking he’s missing. Then goes over to see if he hit it and finds a giant pile of dead Caribou.
JK: Yeah, you’re not seeing that in a Pixar movie.
BG: I could see that getting cut in a writer meeting.
I like the batshit crazy of one man behind the wheel: can I do this? Who can stop me? Then again, I don’t have a huge grasp of what Herge was dealing with editorially. Either way, what he pulled off feels natural.
JK: Do you feel there’s anyone in modern comics, specifically solo, successfully pulling off the Batshit Crazy methodology?
BG: Yeah, too many to name here.
JK: You, James Stokoe and Erik Larsen come to mind for me. Mike Allred too. Not just in terms of being one person doing Batshit Crazy comics, but in terms of people doing what Herge did even if the results are completely different – wherein you’re also creating an entire world with its own mythology.
BG: I just read this Shirow Dominion scene where there’s a fire in a senator’s office and he tries to negotiate with the fire and burns his hand trying to shake on the deal. I think that batshit crazy is one of the foundations of what I love about comics.
JK: See, I could see that working in Tintin. Even those are so wildly different comics.
BG: That might be pushing it for Herge. He seems to work in a mostly reality based world, but also I’m not a fan of when people try to imitate Herge too closely or anyone for that matter.
JK: He’s certainly way more reality based, but he does have a talking, sometimes drunk dog hanging around, even though it’s never completely clear whether or not anyone can hear Snowy speak.
BG: Yeah, I think he has some set rules for how his world works he didnt seem to vary from.
BG: They’re both good, but I worry where a creator stands when you can take away one influence and thir work would be unrecognizable. Herge owns them.
JK: I worship Swarte and Chaland. Granted, I agree with you to some extent, but saying they’re owned by Herge is saying how Frank Quietly and Geof Darrow are owned by Moebius. They’re still amazing, even if their influences are clear.
BG: Well, I think Darrow is owned by Moebius. Quitely has more of his own thing and I think you can still do good work within that, but the fingerprint of the artist standing out as her/his own is real important to me.
JK: And you don’t think Swarte and Chaland have their own fingerprint?
BG: They do to some extent. I mean, I think they’ve both done things that Herge didn’t but when I see their work I first think Herge.
JK: Speaking of people taking on Herge’s style, I know we’re pretty split on the upcoming flick. Do you find anything redeeming about it?
BG: Everything I’ve seen looks bullshit. I just don’t need comics I love to be turned into watred down movies.
JK: I dunno, I’m happy they’re acknowledging Herge’s existence in the style of the flick.
BG: I will say I do kind of enjoy the weird old live action Tintin. I don’t see any of him in the new movie’s style — it’s bad CG.
JK: A childhood raised on good Spielberg movies makes me hopeful for its future.
BG: I’m not a fan of the dude. His shit always seems so forced. He’s like an emotinal bully who wants to force the tears out of his audience at gunpoint.
JK: No love for Indiana Jones? I once read Jones was his partially take on Tintin.
BG: I like them ok. I’d be a cold soul if I didn’t feel the pull of ‘throw me the whip I’ll throw you the idol’, but his overall work and decision making skills I haven’t been a fan of. It’s like enjoying Star Wars as a kid, but not trusting Lucas as a creator.
JK: I don’t know if I would be as big of a fan of his non-Jones work now as I was growing up, but it’s still ingrained in the back of my head. If someone put a gun to your head and you had to choose who would direct a Tintin movie, who would you choose?
BG: I dunno I’m sure it could be done well as much I dont think it needs to be done. I dunno, John Carpenter, someone with some nuts.
JK: You don’t think it’ll expose a new generation to Herge’s work? I’m not sure how many kids these days – especially in America- are reading Tintin.
BG: The work is there, I feel like if you don’t find Tintin you weren’t looking for cool shit.
JK: I think it’s easier if you’re like you or me, but I don’t think the average person on the street even know there’s cool shit like this to look for. Especially if they’re six years old. They still need access.
BG: I don’t think cool shit needs to be handed to everyone. I think you learn some by having to dig.
JK: So you don’t think it’s right for Herge’s stuff to be exposed on a grand scale like it will from a major motion picture like this? I can’t see I see where you’re coming from there.
BG: I think it already is huge. You don’t need to squeeze it for every drop and I don’t think this is Herge’s work we’re talking about anymore than The Spirit movie was Eisner’s work.
JK: Well, sure; I don’t think it should be bled dry, but again I don’t think a lot of average folks even think about Tintin any more, which I think is a damn shame. And lets not get me started on The Spirit again.
BG: It should be said that we’re the only two people that like that movie.
But yeah, it’s hard for me to relate to this idea that everyone should like something that I like. I want good stuff to be avalable but I think past that, do your own homework and we’re talking about Tintin. It’s like saying Astro Boy needs more exposure. It’s a national treasure already. Nothing I ever do in my lifetime will ever have the readership of Tintin at its lowest.
JK: I think Astro Boy and Tintin are national, heck, international treasures overseas, but I’m not seeing a lot of it in the US anymore. Hence why I did this whole Tintin for the Holidays thing in the first place.
BG: But if you look at mainstream american entertainment, it’s garbage for the most part. Why do you want to throw a sweet Belgian boy in that mix? Do the people who love, I dunno, Twilight movies need to also love and know Tintin?
JK: To make it better? I plan on raising my Future Kids on Tintin like mine raised me on Catholicism. Hopefully with better results.
BG: I was raised on Tintin. I’m just saying Tintin is the burden of the parent not the state. I’d like a seperation of Tintin and state too. Also, I should mention I had a hard time coming up with something mainstream, Twilight – that I’ve never actually seen – is the best I can do. I find the best part of being an adult is not having to watch something If i smell bullshit.
JK: So, you don’t think you’ll see the new movie?
BG: I feel like there’s too many things I will love I haven’t gotten into yet, I can’t see spending hours on something I already know I won’t like.
Anyway, I was reading about Edgar P. Jacobs
JK: Right, the main assistant guy?
BG: Yeah, who went on to do Blake & Mortimer.
JK: Oh, yeah; I completely forgot it was the same guy. It’s funny, because when I think of the European adventure drama, Tintin and Blake & Mortimer are what come to mind. I always forget about the direct connection. Blake & Mortimer is such a weird book. Were you ever a fan?
BG: I really haven’t read much of it. I don’t even think I’ve seen it in English.
JK: Same here. I wasn’t even exposed to it until I went to Paris.
BG: It always looked like if the little ego dude, Vittorio Giardino had drawn a book about Johnny Quest’s dads. The thing I’d just read that I liked was how Herge would put him in the books.
JK: Like as a background character?
BG: Both in making fun of Jacobs love of Opera and as a side character. He’s even on the cover of Cigars of the Pharaoh as one of the mummies, but with his name slighly changed to Jacobini. I always enjoy that aspect of comics, the secrets that you don’t need to enjoy the work but that make the work deeper.
JK: It’s a fine line. I always hate it when writers work in overt inside jokes which impede on the understanding of the story, but something like this doesn’t damage your enjoyment. Although I suppose that’s more of an American quality.
Do you see any Herge influence on American creators? For the most part?
BG: What? Generally?
JK: Sometimes I feel like American Herge fans are part of a secret club. I see a lot of Moebius in mainstream artists, but rarely any Herge.
BG: I feel like they both show up about the same amount. Like Shutter Bug Follies seems really Tintin influenced.
JK: Never read it.
BG: You’d like it. Jason Little.
JK: I’ve seen it around, but for whatever reason I didn’t get around to it. I definitely should. Why do you think Tintin has such a hard time penetrating America compared to the rest of the world? It seems huge just about everywhere else you go.
BG: I have no idea how it does in Asia. I kind of feel like it’s pretty big over here, if you asked for it in a library they’d know what you meant.
JK: Maybe. I think it’s dwindled over the last decade or so. Lots of people I talk to, heck, including my own mother, never heard of him. He’s certainly not the powerful icon he is in Europe.
BG: That and Asterix were all over when I was growing up.
JK: Where were you exposed to them? Was it something your parents had around?
BG: Yeah, my parents like comics.
JK: Maybe that’s it. I had to discover all this stuff for myself. Tintin was one of the few comics libraries stocked when I was younger. Those big Little Brown albums.
BG: For some reason as alone in comics as I felt growing up in Seattle, the libraries there were awesome. They even had Manara.
JK: No kidding. Which books?
BG: I remember the one he did with Felini was there.
BG: It wasn’t like Click in the kids section.
JK: That’s some library.
BG: And Corto Maltese too.
JK: Good lord. I didn’t discover that stuff until I started going to Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica.
BG: Yeah, I don’t know if its the accessibility of the age we are but I’m running into a lot of people just finding some of the best French stuff, like adults that are just learning about Moebius. It’s cool.
JK: I’m with you there. It was impossible for awhile. There was a huge drought in the American comics industry when Eurocomics were just plain hard to come by.
We only got Moebius back in print this passed week after… what? Nearly ten years?
BG: Yeah, and it’s just the Jodorowsky stuff so far. I hope it continues.
JK: I hope it expands. It would be nice if I could own Blake & Mortimer in a volume I could read.
BG: There’s some great French stuff coming over. You’ve got to read the Miss Don’t Touch Me books. Those are fun.
JK: What are they?
BG: It’s a murder mystery about a young French lady who has to live in a brothel in order to solve her sisters murder, but its done without any blatent sex. That’s where the title comes from.
JK: She’s abstinent?
BG: She wants to live there to investigate, but isn’t willing to become a hooker to do it. It’s one of those books that’s hard to explain, it’s best to just shove in your face and say it’s great read it. In someways it reminds me of the innocent adventuere in a mess of opium dens and murder that you get in Tintin.
So, what about the new Burns book? That seems pretty Tintin based.
JK: Did you read it?
BG: Not yet; I haven’t really read him since Raw. He seems like a dude who a year ago I wouldn’t have thought had a Herge influence.
JK: You’re missing out, especially with X’Ed Out. It’s basically Burns having a fever dream directed by his two biggest influences, Herge and Burroughs. That said, I do see Herge in his Raw work and obviously X’Ed out. It wasn’t too prevalent in Black Hole. I think for him it’s more of a storytelling thing.
BG: I guess I can see it in Big Baby, but that seemed so much like Americana 50’s horror it threw me off the scent.
JK: Did you ever see those Big Baby end papers which emulated those from the Tintin volumes? With the picture frames?
BG: I can’t remember seeing those. I haven’t read that book since I was 15. I liked it though.
JK: Have you seen Johnny 23 yet? The Foreign bootleg of X’Ed Out?
BG: No, but I really like the idea of it.
JK: That turned me on to the Asian Tintin fandom. When he was at Powell’s he went into the desperate attempt the Chinese went through way back when. They were to reprint in black and white, but didn’t have plates and thought it would be unreadable with the color, so they actually redrew the entire comics. Completely reformatted as well. Essentially creating a new work.
BG: Have you seen those?
JK: Just what he showed at his talk. If you see Johnny 23, the old bootlegs were about the same format. More of a square than a rectangle. Far from the European format.
BG: I’d like to see those. I remember seeing some anachist Tintin bootleg years ago.
JK: Whoa. Go on!
BG: I read part of it in a punk library in NYC; I remember being such a snob that as soon as Tintin acted out of character I put it down, but I’d like to read it again.
JK: I really love the visual of you in a punk library, picking up a Tintin bootleg, throwing it down and yelling “BULLSHIT!”
BG: That sounds like me.
I’m really into the idea of the Japanese fan comics Doujin market, I could see something like Tintin working with that.
JK: I’m liking the idea of Doujin Tintin as well. Have you ever seen a Japanese take?
JK: I’m not too surprised. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t remember the series acknowledging Japan’s existence.
BG: No, I think there are Japanese in it.
JK: What am I forgetting?
BG: Maybe I’m just blanket associating Japan with other Asian countries.
For God’s sakes he’s just a boy adventurer! He can’t be everywhere!
JK: What do you think of the dude who finished off Alph Art, the unfinished Herge volume? To me it’s kind of sacrilege.
BG: I’ve flipped through it, it seemed off– doesnt he have a love interest in it?
JK: I can’t remember. Its been too long. Frankly it turned me off a little bit. I liked the idea, but it’s like, I dunno, a Beatles lost album being finished up by Hoobastank.
I might be fine if Swarte did it.
BG: Yeah, it doesn’t need to be finished. I like that they published the roughs for it. I’m fine that someone took it on themselves to do it, but neither of us read it so that says something.
JK: Would you ever consider doing so?
BG: I’d do a Tintin fan comic, sure; I wouldn’t take on Herges roughs.
JK: You’d rather create an original work in his world?
BG: I wouldn’t want to try to pass something off as Tintin as good as Herge, but if it was seen as a fan doing fan fiction, sure. Recently there were those fake tintin Cthulu covers and I really wished those were something I could read.
JK: Even though Herge wasn’t doing them? How would you feel if Tintin was handled like, say, Mickey Mouse or Superman, where it just kept going by other creators?
BG: I think that would be awful. I could only see it as open to everyone or not continued. The idea of a corporation handling something like that is pretty gross to me.
JK: Tintin in the Land of the Creative Commons?
BG: Yeah, I don’t see it happening especially with how the current licenese holders have been suing fan clubs and shit.
JK: It’s messed up and I don’t entirely get it. Are they worried fan art is going to ruin their brand? Dude has been around since 1929. I think his image is pretty solid in the public consciousness. If you know who Tintin is, there’s no danger of that being ruined by some fan club.
Or a week’s worth of Tintin posts on a blog.
BG: From what I understand it’s just a matter of something cool getting into the wrong hands. I think they just want to get as much loot out of it as possible. Aside from that I remember reading how they are just trying to put out expensive high end merchendise for it. I feel like it should be stuff kids can get, it looses so much if its another weird thing adults pay a lot for to remember when it was cheap.
JK: It’s very true. Especially out here. The only store I can think of specializing in Tintin merchandise was Karikter in San Francisco. It’s in the high end shopping district, near places where handbags cost $800.
JK: Where do you see Tintin being stateside in ten years? Do you think it’ll survive the movie?
BG: I can’t see the movie not changing peoples ideas about the comics. I think that’s my biggest worry. If it was something that you could take or leave then fine, but like with a lot of things that have been made into movies it’s just what most people will think of when its name comes up.
I mean, look at Tank Girl or Appleseed.
JK: Well, worse comes to worst, we could always move to France.
BG: It won’t ruin my life or anything.
JK: Speak for yourself!
Brian Heater, gentleman about town and one of the finest comics blogs around, The Daily Crosshatch, asked a bunch of comics folks what their top five favorites were of the year. You can read the full results here.
While I’m making my explanations a Daily Crosshatch exclusive (OH WOW HOLY CRAP), I thought I’d like them here with some fine artistry.
So, here are my five favorite comics (and my first ever honorable mention) of the year!
1. Arzak: L’Arepenteur by Jean “Moebius” Giraud
2. Orc Stain by James Stokoe
3. King City by Brandon Graham
4. X’ed Out by Charles Burns, Special Mention for Johnny 23, his “bootleg” version published in France by Le Dernier Cri
5. Spider-Man Fever by Brendan McCarthy
Honorable Mention: Lose #2 and Spotting Dee by Michael Deforge
On Monday I posted the first half of submissions, today I’m posting the second.
Tomorrow we’ll be wrapping up this week of Tintin posts with a Casual Conversation On Tintin with King City’s Brandon Graham. Brandon’s love of Tintin may even exceed my own, which is saying an awful lot.
For now I want to dive straight into our pile of amazing pieces. Stay tuned at the end for a special Tintin and Neon Monster related announcement, followed by some suggestions as to what to read next.
Since we started off with Andre Szymanowicz’s take on the famous Tintin in the Spotlight piece, I figured we should do the same with Kelly Tindall’s.
You should check out her latest comics work, Legend of Larsha 2: Imaginational Magic.
Speaking of Periscope Studios members highlighting my favorite aspects of Tintin, Roy’s Boys cartoonist Ron Chan. I always enjoyed the sight gags Herge used and like this as it also gives a hint of Tintin as world traveler.
Although, my favorite bit here may be how pleased Snowy is by Tintin’s situation. Very typical for the character and well pulled off here.
Terry Blas and Kimball Davis
It made me happy to see someone celebrate the relationship between Tintin and his friend, Chang. Tintin’s world is an odd one, where he doesn’t often hang out with any other children (and only one woman) with Chang being the exception. His first appearance is also my favorite, Herge’s oft-regarded masterpiece, The Blue Lotus.
While completely different in approach, Rob Davis’ piece is a direct take off of one of Herge’s volumes, The Seven Crystal Balls.
I love it for for the same thing I dug about Andre and Tony Morgan’s pieces last time. Rob’s style is very different from Herge’s, yet Tintin, Haddock, et. al all remain familiar.
Belgian creator Mario Boon pays homage to his home’s two most respected creations in one fell swoop. This is absolute madness distilled into one page and I absolutely love it.
Moritat (with colors by Brandon Graham)
Moritat’s ability to combine the European sensibilities of cartoonists like Herge and Milo Manara in mainstream US work like Elephantmen or Will Eisner’s The Spirit always impresses me, so it was a thrill to see him submit this piece. Additional thanks go to Brandon Graham for coloring it up.
And finally, speaking of Brandon…
Brandon Graham is the brilliant cartoonist behind such works as King City, the upcoming Oni Press series Multiple Warheads and a bunch of porn. You can probably guess what he thinks about the upcoming Spielberg/Jackson Tintin flick.
We spend a lot of time jabbering on about comics and as I mentioned before, we both have a huge love for Tintin. In fact, I’d say a good 45% of our conversations are about either Herge or Moebius.
Tomorrow we’re presenting Tintin for the Holidays, Part Three: A Casual Conversation on Tintin with Brandon Graham. I don’t know if I’d call it an interview, nor do I promise any deep analysis into, say, the symbolism being Snowy walking around while he’s been half eaten by a snake, but rather how freaking cool it is. My hope is our enthusiasm will infect you.
If it does and you’re artistically inclined, I’m so thrilled be the results of Tintin for the Holidays that I want to keep the invitation open. Starting now I’ll be perpetually open to posting your Tintin fan art. There’s also a lot out there by established names I haven’t seen out in the open for awhile, including the aforementioned Moebius.
I’m calling the feature Today’s Tintin and you can take part by e-mailing me directly at joekeatinge at gmail dot com. Just make sure Today’s Tintin is in the subject line.
Can’t wait to see what you’ll do. In the meantime, stay tuned tomorrow for my conversation with Brandon, where we discuss everything from Tintin in the Congo making me feel awkward to the upcoming movie making Brandon feel mad. We’ll also talk about our favorite volumes and where an all-new or lapsed reader should start.
As I mentioned in Monday’s guide to other works by Strange Tales’ many cartoonists, my favorite thing about Marvel’s indie-focused anthology isn’t just radically different takes on characters over a hundred years old, but exposing these creators to a larger audience than ever before
While Strange Tales’ curators have been doing a great job, there are a number of people I haven’t seen published or approached who I think would knock a short or two out of the park. I’ve been lucky enough to edit and oversee over two thousand pages of mostly new creators through PopGun and would like to see them all take the next big step. Strange Tales seems to be the perfect home for them to do so.
On that note this list is not in any particular order nor does it begin to cover the amazing amount of new creators who would do an excellent job reinterpreting any of Marvel’s thousands of characters. I’m limiting it to twelve since I covered the twelve cartoonists in Strange Tales II #1 and these happen to be the first to come to mind.
I usually think it’s lame to say someone is “The Next _________,” as it usually short changes their own accomplishments, but I truly believe James Stokoe will be his generation’s equivalent of Jack Kirby.
Their work is completely different. Their approaches are not remotely the same. However, in terms of sheer output, drive and madcap creativity I’ve not seen someone so similar to the King, well, pretty much ever.
Right now James is mostly known for his Image Comics’ series, Orc Stain, but it’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he’s done thus far. Even when you include his first major published work, the sci-fi-cooking series at Oni Press, Won-Ton Soup, you barely begin to cover what he’s already accomplished. The truth is a lot of it isn’t in print now, if it ever was in the first place.
The guy is a machine. I’ve been lucky enough to see the piles of original art he has at home and the rapid fire of ideas and concepts are truly mind blowing. He has at least a couple graphic novels which have never seen print, including the full color War Won-Ton. He’s not concerned with getting those past works out there, even though barely anyone has ever seen them. James’ eye is toward what he’s creating tomorrow.
It’s like how Speed Racer’s described in the highly under rated movie, Stokoe seems to be interested in only one thing. All he talks about, all he seems capable of thinking about, is making comics. I don’t think you could pay a cartoonist a bigger compliment.
Then there’s the comics about OTHER people’s characters he draws for fun. He’s drawn a Godzilla story which blows the last 30 years of giant reptile comics out of the water just because, he cranked out an Aliens story in days when he felt like it and he even took on a Silver Surer: Parable inspired story with a Galactus drawn over six feet of Bristol paper. Most people have never seen these and it’s a damn shame. It would be nice if Strange Tales changed it.
Michael DeForge has probably received more mentions in my columns recently than any other cartoonist, but there’s a good reason for it. Since reading his Koyama Press published comics, Lose, I’ve been completely enamored with just about everything he draws.
I’ve recently discussed why at length, but I feel it’s somewhat worth repeating. The guy doesn’t work like anyone out there or anyone before him. Does he have influences? Sure, everybody does, but he doesn’t let them bog down his work. Every single story I read of his is fresh and different.
What excites me most is he’s still relatively young. What he’s doing now is his ‘rough period’ and yet it blows away work by veteran folks.
You should definitely locate a copy of his mini-comic, Peter’s Muscle. It’s a completely unauthorized take on everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood webslinger and a glimpse of what could be if given the chance to officially take the reins of Marvel’s finest.
Ever since meeting Evan Bryce at HeroesCon, I’ve been taken with the energy of his line work. It’s a cliché, but it applies to Evan, in that his illustrations seem like they’re moving. The way he plays with perspective and anatomy results in a visually kinetic experience. Over the years his artwork has grown leaps and bounds.
My only complaint is he doesn’t have a huge stack of comics work out there, but it’s my hope it changes. I was actually lucky enough to collaborate with him years ago on a short in Negative Burn and was really taken with how much he improved the story. However, his art has evolved so much since then. It makes me think the world would be a better place if we saw more comics from him now.
Luckily, he’s an extremely prolific illustrator with a regularly updated art blog. I have no doubt in my mind that once the right editor sees his work we’ll finally get the Bryce comics we’ve long needed.
Beast, her first original graphic novel from Image Comics, was released last year and took just about anyone who saw it by surprise. Marian appeared out of nowhere, dropping a massive tome in our laps that looked like it was produced by someone decades into their career. I have the feeling we’ll be experiencing this with her a number of times over the years to come. Just when we’re all very confident in our abilities, Marian will produce a work that reminds us we have a long way to go. Her work on Elephantmen was quite impressive, but it wasn’t until she was let out on her own did she really blow everyone anyway.
The thing is she also achieves a rare feat in being equal parts strong as a writer and artist. A lot of cartoonists seem to lead toward one end of the spectrum or another, but it’s not the case with her. If she so desired, she could spend the rest of her career just writing some of the most acclaimed comics we’ve seen in decades as easily as she could become one of the most famed illustrators of her generation.
Given her strong combination of talents, not only do I think she has the ability to take any character Marvel could throw at her and make it brilliant, but I think that would apply to her just about anywhere.
Remember a few years ago when Rick Remender told everyone how huge Jerome Opeña would be one day? If you don’t, around the time when Jerome came on Fear Agent, Rick told just about anyone Jerome was destined to be a superstar. If you saw their collaboration on the recent Uncanny X-Force, you know he was right.
Sometimes you can look at someone’s work and know immediately that they have “it.” It’s hard to describe exactly what “it” is, but there are certain people whose artwork immediately shows they’re meant to do one thing in life: make comics.
What Rick saw in Jerome’s early work, I see in Andre Szymanowicz’s.
I first noticed Andre in the pages of the Eisner award-winning Tori Amos anthology, Comic Book Tattoo. Soon after, we were lucky enough to publish him in the pages of the also Eisner award-winning PopGun Vol. 3.
In that time I’ve gotten to know Andre and – full disclosure – work with him. By doing so I’ve gotten to see that not only does the guy have artistic chops, the guy has the drive and the passion to do great comics more so than just about any new comer I know.
I look at his work and I see not the next Frank Quietly, Art Adams or Dave Finch, but rather someone others will eventually compare newcomers to as the next Andre Szymanowicz. He’s not there yet, but the guy is definitely on his way to getting there.
To catch up with his work, I would recommend keeping an eye out for his upcoming self-published work, Sushi Nachos, due out in spring 2011. Around the same time he’ll also be making an appearance at San Francisco’s WonderCon to coincide with an art opening at local shop Mission: Comics and Art. Further work is underway, but you should definitely get in the ground floor for a guy I definitely think will end up being the Next Big Thing.
Paul Pope prophesized and executed the idea of World Comics well over a decade ago, in which art styles, theories and practices from around the world would combine into something new and unique. The more manga got out there, the more Eurocomics were published stateside, creators would begin to fuse all these styles together in ways we just never saw, at least with any frequency, in decades passed. Furthermore, I would add the incalculable growth of information distribution online exposes people to so much more than they would have ever seen before. Diverse elements like graphic design, fashion and pop culture flood people from all over the world. What this dissemination results in definitely has me excited.
If there’s one creator I feel is the heir apparent to the World Comics, it’s definitely Brandon Graham. When he talks comics, he refers to Vaughn Bode, Moebius and Katushiro Otomo all in the same breath. When he draws comics, he produces work like I’ve never seen before, drawing inspiration not just from comics, but graphitti and a wide range of music. To say it’s influences lean towards just one school of thought or another is impossible.
It’s not just the visuals.
In a recent interview, Brandon talked about how the shift of King City shifted at the halfway point, focusing on the experience of living in cities and it shows. The series begins by focusing on a Catmaster – think Green Lantern, but with a cat and no goofy costume – named Joe, it’s not too long until we see the rich world Brandon has built. Every door has something behind it; every panel is filled with micro-nuances, which make everything seem alive. In twelve issues, you experience a character’s life so thoroughly it’s like it was published for decades.
He’s been extremely prolific with his own characters and concepts, so I definitely want to see him continue on such a track. However, it would be interesting to see someone with such a mastery of world building with a global style to recreate characters so set in American culture with almost seventy-five years of publishing behind them.
Marley Zarcone saw her first published work in the pages of PopGun, but was quickly picked up by Morning Glories writer Nick Spencer to illustrate a portion of his rock ‘n roll fueled mini-series, Forgetless. Long/short, this got into the hands of Vertigo, which lead to a guest issue of Madame Xanadu, which led to yet another guest shot in November’s House of Mystery #31.
So, yeah, Marley’s on fire.
The attention is very well deserved.
I also see the World Comics trend prevalent in Marley’s work, to the point I have a hard time pinpointing what inspirations make up her style. To me, that’s one hell of a compliment. Her portfolio shows characters from Hellblazer, Blade of the Immortal and Batgirl, showing that there’s not just one source she’s drawing from.
Given her range, I could see her tackling just about any character from any property family they have. Whatever ends up happening, I know I’m excited.
My favorite story about Emi Lenox goes back to when she was an intern at Portland, OR’s Periscope Studio. She received the position after explaining while she wasn’t able to write or draw, she was interested in the business side of comics. This went on for a while until they caught her drawing and were very surprised by what they saw.
Not only could she draw, but she was good.
Luckily for us the encouragement led to her launching EmiTown, an autobio comic running for the past few years and recently picked up for publication by Image Comics.
It’s a great read. As I’ve stated in the past, I think slice of life and especially autobio comics are the hardest genre to pull off. Everyone can make a sandwich – how do you tell a story about doing so in a new, different way? I don’t think I could pull it off in the slightest, so I admire those that do. I especially admire Emi’s ability to tell the day to day in such an engaging manner when she’s virtually just starting out.
Her storytelling ability isn’t the only reason why I think she would be a prime candidate for Strange Tales. While her EmiTown style is fantastic, she often experiments with others, usually more details and dramatic. She has a strong grasp on not only the basics, but also the ability to subtly convey a lot of emotion. It’s a very tough skill and she knocks it out of the park. I see her going very far in the mainstream industry after she completes a few more indie projects In fact, if I had my way, she would be my first choice to re-launch Runaways with the right writer.
There are certain creators whose work I just can’t process.
This is much more of a compliment than it reads.
Seth Fisher was – still is – a prime example of what I’m talking about. I absolutely love just about everything he every put to paper like Happydale, Green Lantern: Willworld, Vertigo Pop! Tokyo, Batman: Snow and Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan. People throw around the term “energy” when discussing artists, but this guy truly had it in droves. Reading anything he drew lit my mind on fire with the hundreds and hundreds of ideas and detail he methodically designed in every panel.
I could never understand his starting point. I could never make sense of how he was able to make so many random pieces fit together so perfectly well.
But he did. Dude became a hard act to follow.
However, if any artist has a chance of following said act, it’s Ulises Farinas.
I first noticed Ulises, like a lot of people on this list, through PopGun, but since then the guy has blown up with talent. You would think those early stories was an artist on the top of his game, but every time he puts out another piece like this Marvel Fantasy epic or his recent, albeit unauthorized Batman Loses story I can only think we’ve barely seen the beginning of an artist who will one day get to the same level as Fisher.
Dan Hipp holds the unique title of being the first artist to draw a page I liked so much I knew I had to own the original. Since then this has only happened twice more, once with Mike Allred’s PopGun Vol. 1 cover and again with a page of Nextwave by Stuart Immonen. Not bad company to be in.
Said piece was from Amazing Joy Buzzards, which is also the first time his work caught my eye period, with writer Mark Andrew Smith. The series, about a group of rock and rollers who travel the world in search of adventure, remains a favorite of mind in no short part due to his art and book design.
I’ve been avidly following him since, from his work on the Tokyopop series, GYAKUSHU!, to his licensed work like Gen13 and even Ben10. I can’t get enough his art; the guy just draws me in. Like I mentioned about Ulises and Fisher, Dan has an as energy to his line which makes his stuff blow off the page. I mentioned Immonen and Ellis’ NextWave earlier and if there were anyone capable of taking over such a book, it would most certainly be Dan.
Furthermore, in the last several months he’s been very actively maintaining an art blog, with updates containing everything from Marvel’s finest to Akira to Sergio Leone westerns and just about anything cool pulp culture has to offer. Considering how well he takes on characters and ideas from so many diverse sources makes me have full confidence in his ability to take on whatever Strange Tales could throw at him.
Zack Soto’s a guy I first noticed through his fine art, specifically with the Portland collective, Pony Club. Since then I’ve backtracked to discover his AdHouse one-shot, Secret Voice, and the work with his Ignatz award-winning anthology, Study Group 12. Comparing the comics with the fine art and illustration made me a fan, seeing where he crossed aspects of one with the other to formulate something new.
When considering people who could bring a unique, yet faithful spin to the Marvel superheroes Zack immediately came to mind. In fact, it’s this Cable piece which made me think so. It’s clearly his take on the early 90s version, complete with exaggerated anatomy way too many packs of, well, who knows.
Despite that, through his art style it becomes a take we haven’t seen before. This doesn’t look like Rob Liefeld, it doesn’t even look like Ladronn’s run. It’s wholly its own. After following his online presence and talking to him one-on-one I’ve learned he has a real love for the Marvel Universe. So to see someone with so much passion, yet such a wildly conflicting – in a good, heck, the best way – style seems to be exactly what Strange Tales was built for.
Michel Fiffe knows comics.
I mean, he really knows comics.
In addition to being a great cartoonist – which we’ll get to in a second – Michel is a regular contributor to both the Comics Journal and the Comics Beat with his thorough columns and interviews on subjects ranging from indie classics like Mark Badger to more obscure genius like Thriller’s Trevor Von Eeden. Any time I see any piece written by him, I’m gripped. The guy oozes with so much passion for the medium it’s infectious. It’s this passion which led him to piece together an indie centric anthology of his own, Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies, which showcases contributors including the aforementioned Farinas, Dean Haspiel, Vito Delsante, Andrew Dimitt, Rachel Freire, Simon Fraser, George O’Connor, Tim Hamilton, Michael Cavallaro and a legion more.
As I mentioned, the guy also really knows how to push a pencil. He made huge strides with his Act-I-Vate series, Panorama, especially after being published in Image Comics’ Brawl, with Billy Dogma’s Haspiel. Since then his body of work has continued to expand with Panorama seeing the end of its run and other comics such as Zegas making a splash.
While a huge fan of both Panorama and Zegas, it’s the former in specific which makes me think he’s a must addition to the House of Idea’s indie anthology. His ability to blend the every day with the surreal appears flawless and makes one wonder why he hasn’t been drawing Dr. Strange since Strange Tales’ first run. Given his well documented affinity for Steve Ditko I also believe he would do a splendid job whether or not there as an anthology to begin with.
It’s a job the guy was born to do.